1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 5.4 The Goodness of God

Table of Contents

The Text

Ephesians 3:14-21 (CSB) For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The Chapter

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, which also he most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth, in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

The Confession

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God

Romans 11:32–34 (CSB) For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?

In this section of Chapter 5, we are finally dealing with the question that some have dared to ask:

"Is God the author of sin?"

But let us not be quick to forget and we need to be oft reminded: God is all powerful, all knowing, and holy, holy, holy.

God is perfectly might, fullest of wisdom, and the only source of good.

God is almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness.

To engage with such a titillating question of "God as author of sin?" to be aptly and forever reminder of who God is. There is no exception.

so far manifest themselves in his providence

2 Samuel 24:1 (CSB) The LORD’s anger burned against Israel again, and he stirred up David against them to say, “Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.”

In all that he does, in whatever he does, however he provides, he does from himself who is the source of goodness.

that his determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall

1 Chronicles 21:1 (CSB) Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to count the people of Israel.

God himself ordained the actions of Satan:

Job 1:12 (CSB) “Very well,” the LORD told Satan, “everything he owns is in your power. However, do not lay a hand on Job himself.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence.

God himself knew and ordained the actions of Adam and Eve. He could have stopped their actions. He could have not created them. He could have not created the angels and thus, not created Lucifer. He could have prevented all the pain, and sin, and brokenness, and iniquity.

and all other sinful actions both of angels and men

2 Kings 19:28 (CSB) Because your raging against me and your arrogance have reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth; I will make you go back the way you came.

He could have prevented my dad abusing me. He could have prevented my mom from leaving me when I was 6 never to return. He could have protected me from my stepmom. He could have protected me where my grandmother failed to do so. He could have stopped my previous failed marriages.

and that not by a bare permission

Psalm 76 (CSB)
For the choir director: with stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

1 God is known in Judah; his name is great in Israel.

2 His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.

3 There he shatters the bow’s flaming arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah

4 You are resplendent and majestic coming down from the mountains of prey.

5 The brave-hearted have been plundered; they have slipped into their final sleep. None of the warriors was able to lift a hand.

6 At your rebuke, God of Jacob, both chariot and horse lay still.

7 And you—you are to be feared. When you are angry, who can stand before you?

8 From heaven you pronounced judgment. The earth feared and grew quiet

9 when God rose up to judge and to save all the lowly of the earth. Selah

10 Even human wrath will praise you; you will clothe yourself with the wrath that remains.

11 Make and keep your vows to the LORD your God; let all who are around him bring tribute to the awe-inspiring one.

12 He humbles the spirit of leaders; he is feared by the kings of the earth.

He could have. But what everybody, including myself, meant for evil, God, in his almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and the source of all good, did not only stop the evil but ordained it for his glory and my good and the good of others.

God is not above ordaining the worst kinds of evil if it means that his people are saved unto himself forever.

which also he most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth

Psalm 10 (CSB)
1 LORD, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide in times of trouble?

2 In arrogance the wicked relentlessly pursue their victims; let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.

3 For the wicked one boasts about his own cravings; the one who is greedy curses and despises the LORD.

4 In all his scheming, the wicked person arrogantly thinks, “There’s no accountability, since there’s no God.”

5 His ways are always secure; your lofty judgments have no effect on him; he scoffs at all his adversaries.

6 He says to himself, “I will never be moved— from generation to generation I will be without calamity.”

7 Cursing, deceit, and violence fill his mouth; trouble and malice are under his tongue.

8 He waits in ambush near settlements; he kills the innocent in secret places. His eyes are on the lookout for the helpless;

9 he lurks in secret like a lion in a thicket. He lurks in order to seize a victim; he seizes a victim and drags him in his net.

10 So he is oppressed and beaten down; helpless people fall because of the wicked one’s strength.

11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he hides his face and will never see.”

12 Rise up, LORD God! Lift up your hand. Do not forget the oppressed.

13 Why has the wicked person despised God? He says to himself, “You will not demand an account.”

14 But you yourself have seen trouble and grief, observing it in order to take the matter into your hands. The helpless one entrusts himself to you; you are a helper of the fatherless.

15 Break the arm of the wicked, evil person, until you look for his wickedness, but it can’t be found.

16 The LORD is King forever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.

17 LORD, you have heard the desire of the humble; you will strengthen their hearts. You will listen carefully,

18 doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed so that mere humans from the earth may terrify them no more.

in a manifold dispensation to his most holy ends

Genesis 1:20 (CSB) Then God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.”

yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures

Isaiah 10:6–12 (CSB) I will send him against a godless nation; I will command him to go against a people destined for my rage, to take spoils, to plunder, and to trample them down like clay in the streets. But this is not what he intends; this is not what he plans. It is his intent to destroy and to cut off many nations. For he says, “Aren’t all my commanders kings? Isn’t Calno like Carchemish? Isn’t Hamath like Arpad? Isn’t Samaria like Damascus? As my hand seized the kingdoms of worthless images, kingdoms whose idols exceeded those of Jerusalem and Samaria, and as I did to Samaria and its worthless images will I not also do to Jerusalem and its idols?” But when the Lord finishes all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for his arrogant acts and the proud look in his eyes.”

and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous

Psalm 1:6 (CSB) For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin

1 John 2:16 (CSB) For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world.

Ecclesiastes 7:29 (CSB) Only see this: I have discovered that God made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.”

And if any of this does not make sense for your life or my life, consider this.

It pleased God to ordain the sins of Judas Iscariot to betray his perfect and only begotten Jesus Christ who is always perfect innocent. Just as he rose the Pharaoh to power and crushed in order to save Moses and his people, so to he rose his son and was pleased to crush him in order all who looked upon his Son would be saved.

God does not wink at sin. God does not turn away from our sinful thoughts and actions. God does not play both sides of the board. Yet, God ordains the sin of angels and men. God presents the objects of temptation to expose the sin that is still within our hearts.

Evil is still evil. Good is good. Our sin is still sin against God. God is the only source of good. And in his ordination, we are here. We are here, born and broken in sin, but rescued and redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be his glorious name forever.